Brianna Heldt is a writer, speaker, and radio show host. She blogs at www.briannaheldt.com, has been a featured guest on BBC Radio, and her work can regularly be found in other online publications as well. A convert to the Catholic Church, Brianna explores topics ranging from faith and social issues to adoption and large family life. She and her husband make their home in Denver, along with their eight children.
Oops, Teen Vogue went and did it again.
More specifically, they’ve published yet another dangerous, morally bankrupt article aimed at vulnerable teenagers. Last time it was giving instructions on what type of gift to give a friend who’s just had an abortion.
And this time? Well, this time it’s a play-by-play tutorial on how (and why) young girls should engage in acts of sodomy.
Gigi Engle, the woman who wrote the piece in Teen Vogue, is a self-described sex educator. Throughout the article, she talks about “knowing the facts”, innocently assures her readers that “it doesn’t hurt to have the information”, and in defense of writing such an article asks “What about the teenagers? What about the LGBTQ young people who need to know about this for their sexual health?” Judging from her tone’s sense of urgency, you’d think she was referencing the need for adolescents to practice good oral hygiene, or wear deodorant. But no, she is instead referring to the act of sodomy which, according to her, “though often stigmatized, is a perfectly natural way to engage in sexual activity...So if you’re a little worried about trying it or are having trouble understanding the appeal, just know that it isn’t weird or gross.”
Yes ma’am. Sure. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Nothing to see here!
Never mind that the CDC states that such an act is “the riskiest sexual behavior for getting and transmitting HIV for men and for women.” And forget the fact that towards the end of Engle’s piece, she finally lets her readers know that they will indeed come in contact with fecal matter—but hey, kids, no biggie.
Are you kidding me?
Fellow parents of teenagers, I’m sorry to say that this is what the culture at large is telling our kids. Even if your child is not a regular purveyor of trashy magazines, he or she is most likely attending school, playing sports, and going to youth group with peers who are. And this stuff isn’t going away—there is now a widely-accepted expectation that today’s teens will experiment with all kinds of moral and sexual boundaries. No, that’s not me clutching my pearls or being paranoid. It’s simply the truth.
Even the Huffington Post threw their hat in the ring with their recent follow-up, defending the Teen Vogue piece as something “all” teens should learn from. And how this is an entirely separate publication now, jumping on the bandwagon? Check out the tweets they include from Teen Vogue editor Phillip Picardi, particularly where he says “The backlash to this article is rooted in homophobia. It's also laced in arcane delusion about what it means to be a young person today.”
Well, Mr. Picardi, I must respectfully tell you that my problem with your magazine’s article has absolutely nothing to do with “homophobia”, and everything to do with the spreading of destructive and misleading advice to curious, impressionable teenagers. My problem is that your magazine signaled the supposed validity and normalcy of the act, and ultimately the message that sodomy is on par with, or equal to, sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Which it is most certainly NOT. Oh and just for the record, “young people today” deserve the truth about sexuality just as much as the young of yesterday.
We parents must not allow the voice of the culture to be the primary voice our sons and daughters hear when it comes to the subject of human sexuality. We have to educate ourselves on what that voice is saying, where it is coming from, and most importantly, what the real truth of the matter is. And then, we have to teach our kids. Because unless they’re well-grounded in the good, the beautiful, and the true? We’re putting them at grave risk.
So let’s give our children the tools to be emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy, and to fight against the pervasive influence. Don’t shy away from having hard conversations with your teens, particularly related to their sexuality. Answer their questions. Take whatever steps necessary to shield them from pornography (which yes, includes obscene magazines like Teen Vogue.) Teach them natural law, explain God’s magnificent plan for men and for women, and tell them why following that plan works. Talk about marriage, procreation, and chastity. The remarkable thing is that because the natural law is true, it makes perfect sense—and kids really get that!
We Catholics have such a profoundly important gift in our faith. We have the truth. We have friendship with Jesus. We have the sacraments. Thankfully, our culture’s ever-changing fads and deteriorating values do not have the last word here. But as parents we do need to be vigilant, and instruct our children in the beauty of being created in God’s very image. Our teenagers are naturally prone to wonder about who they are, why they are here, and what they are meant for—the only question is, who will be there to answer them.
Will it be us, their parents, armed with the knowledge of a God who loves and wants the best for them?
Or will they be left to take their cues about sexuality from a coarse, perverse, and innocence-robbing sex educator at Teen Vogue?